A Hong Kong man has claimed he was cheated out of more than US$132,000 after being told by fraudsters he needed to pay taxes in advance for winning US$1.85 million in fictitious lucky draws.
The case came to light in a writ filed in the High Court on Tuesday by Steven Sun Hin-sang, a resident in Hong Kong and the United States, who is now demanding the five owners of the accounts, to which he made deposits, pay him back with interest.
The defendants are listed as Zhang Yongqing, Xu Tao, Lai Jiansheng, Huang Jian and Lin Weiwu.
The legal document revealed Sun’s troubles began in April when a company known as Riteng Group congratulated him for winning an anniversary lucky draw.
Following instructions on the company letter, Sun called a telephone number that put him through to a Mandarin-speaking man.
Sun was told that he had won US$160,000 but that he would have to pay taxes in advance to collecting the money, and was instructed to deposit US$4,870 into Lai’s account and US$8,000 into Xu’s account.
Sun further received an email attached with a photocopy of an undated cheque for the sum of HK$1,235,451 payable to him and instructions to complete the tax procedures within seven days – which he did in five days.
When Sun then called the number again, he was told by another Mandarin-speaking man that he would have to contact the sponsor of the lucky draw, a company known as SJM Holdings Limited.
Believing that to be true, he called the new number and was connected to a Mandarin-speaking woman, who said he had been admitted as a member and could therefore participate in another lucky draw with a prize of up to US$1.69 million.
But to secure that membership, Sun was told that he would have to deposit US$32,043 into Huang’s account, US$27,243 into Lin’s account and another US$59,870 into Zhang’s account.
Having arranged the deposits, Sun learned through the company that he had won the US$1.69 million and that he would pocket the money if he pay the taxes in advance.
Sun further received an email on May 14 from a person claiming to be Wong Kuen-fai of the Inland Revenue Department’s Stamp Office, stating that he had to pay an “opportunity gift tax” for winning the draw.
But Sun did not make the payment as he later discovered the companies never existed and there was no such thing as an opportunity gift tax in Hong Kong.
Sun said the defendants were “unjustly enriched” in retaining his money.
He is now demanding for the five recipients to account for the whereabouts of his money and to pay him back with interest.
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